James William Steorts
Sixth West Virginia Cavalry
by Linda Kaufman
James William Steorts was born at Jane Lew, Lewis County, (W)VA in 1831, one of six children of George Steorts and Eunice Bailey, and a grandson of Minter Bailey, Sr. and Ann Nancy Norris Bailey. James was a brother of my great grandfather, George Washington Steorts,who married Amanda Cookman from Jesse's Run. They moved to Wallback, WV in 1873.
The third brother, Perry Commodore STORTS went to Missouri in 1855 shortly after the death of their father in 1851 and their mother in 1855. His family has always spelled the namewithout the "e." During the Civil War Perry fought on the Confederate side. Stephen B. Elkins, later Senator Elkins from WV was in Missouri before he went on west and he and Perry knew each other. Apparently the family lost touch with each other until about 1890 for I have some letters written by their sister Rulina Steorts who married John J. Bott and moved to Ellensburg, WA and from Perry to my great grandfather dated from 1890 to about 1901.
In the letters the other two children are mentioned, Sarah who marred James McDonald and lived in Taylor County, and Hepsibah who married her first cousin Isaac Jackson.The letters mention that the siblings were visiting each other in the 1890s. Isaac and Hepsibah Steorts Jackson lived on Main Street in Jane Lew. When Isaac died in 1910 he owned about 1500 acres in Jane Lew and down Hackers Creek, some extending into Harrison County, and including most of the original Bailey land his grandfather Minter Bailey purchased in 1809 and the land inherited by the his Steorts brothers and sisters in law in 1854.
I met Ruth Smith Bell, a great granddaughter of Isaac and Hepsibah Jackson in 1982. She lived next door to the large Victorian house the Jacksons built for their daughter Dora Watson who lived there until 1937 and then two of Dora's unmarried daughters lived there until their deaths in the 1970s. Ruth told me that when Perry came to visit the family about 1900 he then went over to Elkins, WV to visit his old friend Senator Elkins. A son of Rulina Steorts Bott, Will Bott, who was born in Lewis County in 1864 and left the area as a boy came from Washington State to visit his cousins about 1946. What stories Perry and Will must have told!
Linda Steorts Kaufman
Records for Private James W. STEORTS, Company B, 6th West Virginia Cavalry
James first enrolled in 1861 for three years service and re-enlisted for another three years on 1 FEB 1864 at Martinsburg, Virginia (now in West Virginia). He was captured while out on a scouting mission on 26 JUN 1864 near Springfield, Virginia and sent to the Confederate military prison known as Camp Sumter or Andersonville in Georgia. After about four months at Andersonville, he was transferred to the newly opened Confederate military prison at Millen, Georgia on 31 OCT 1864. Millen is located in Jenkins County, Georgia about 45 miles south of Augusta. Major General William T. Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea" from Atlanta began on 15 NOV 1864 and ended with the Union army's occupation of the City of Savannah on 21 DEC 1864. Sherman's army swept through Jenkins County and his approach resulted in the closing of Millen after only about six weeks of operation. However, I think James' release on parole had nothing to do with Sherman's "March to the Sea".
There are three Memorandum from Prisoner of War Records in James' CMSR. The first shows that he was paroled for exchange at Savannah, Georgia on 21 NOV 1864. The other two give his parole date as 23 NOV 1864. In any event, it appears that James was delivered to Union authorities at Venus Point located near the mouth of the Savannah River. Several thousand Confederate POWs were delivered by the Federals to Confederate authorities at Venus Point on 15 NOV 1864, many of whom came from Fort Delaware. This delivery of prisoners for exchange was to have included only sick and debilitated prisoners from both sides. James was taken by ship back to Annapolis, Maryland where he was admitted to the Division No. 1, U. S. Hospital suffering from chronic diarrhea on 4 DEC 1864. Medical authorities were unable to reverse his condition and he died at the hospital on 15 JAN 1865. He was buried in Ash Grove U. S. Cemetery at Annapolis of 18 JAN 1865. His grave was numbered and is marked today. Ash Grove was renamed Annapolis National Cemetery circa 1870.
James was moved from Andersonville to Millen because of overcrowding and the humanitarian disaster that had occurred at Andersonville. The Federal POWs held at Millen received relatively better treatment than had been the case at Andersonville.
Several "humanitarian" deliveries for exchange of sick and disabled prisoners were made in the fall of 1864. CMSRs show that 3,036 Confederate POWs "unlikely to be fit for duty for 60 days" were delivered to Confederate authorities at Venus Point near the mouth of the Savannah River on 15 NOV 1864. The Confederates handed over an equal number of Union POWs that they were holding. James was among these men. The Union paroled prisoners were loaded aboard the same ships that brought the Confederates prisoners down to the coast of Georgia. They were taken to Camp Parole at Annapolis. The sick were admitted to the hospitals at Annapolis. These men would not be declared exchanged unless they could be immediately returned to duty. James died as a paroled prisoner of war in the care of his own army.
More Information on Sixth WV Inf.
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